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Band of Outlaws  
Jean-Luc Godard
1964 || 90 mins

Arthur (Claude Brasseur) and Franz (Sami Frey), are down on their luck and looking for a way to make some easy money. Falling in with Odile (Anna Karina), they devise a plan to rob a cache of loot hidden in a lodger’s room in her aunt’s house outside Paris. Killing time before the robbery, a love triangle develops between them. Meanwhile, things get really complicated when Arthur’s criminal uncle finds out about their scheme, forcing them to act out their plan before they’re ready, leading to disastrous consequences.

see also articles on:
Top 10 Godard Movies || Jean-Luc Godard Profile|| French New Wave History || French New Wave Film Guide

Returning to the crime story genre which he explored with A Bout De Souffle (1960), Jean-Luc Godard created one of his most accessible and enjoyable films in this tale of a heist gone wrong. Based loosely on an American pulp novel Fools Gold by Dolores Hitchens, Godard packs the movie with enough cinematic allusions, literary quotations and exuberant pop culture riffing to sustain three films by anybody else. The result is both a freewheeling celebration of the gangster film and a meditation on the foolishness of youthful naiveté.

Shot in black and white on location in a grey, overcast Paris, the film is rooted in the concrete reality of billboards, cafes and the metro. This gritty reality contrasts with the movie-inspired fantasies of the main characters, who play-act the part of gangsters, re-enacting shoot-outs in the street like school boys. As Godard himself says at one point, interrupting the action in voice over: “Franz thinks of everything and nothing. Uncertain if reality is becoming dream, or dream reality.”

This interjection occurs during the film’s most celebrated set piece, a spontaneous dance routine in a cafe during which Godard intermittently stops the action to comment on the thoughts of the three characters. Other famous scenes include a breakneck dash around the Louvre, and an actual “minute of silence”. These spontaneous moments have little to do with the plot, but have everything to do with giving the film its offbeat charm.

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